Throughout our time here at CVU we’ve been contacted by many parents asking about communication with their daughters while they’re undergoing “treatment” at Alsana/Castlewood. Usually, these queries are precipitated by a bad gut feeling they get while interacting with their daughter. In writing to, calling, or texting with their child some kind of parental “Spidey Sense” is triggered. They feel in their heart something bad is happening. This causes an urge to communicate MORE with their child. This is a knee-jerk reaction and completely normal. Your parental instincts have just kicked in. A primal urge to protect your child has engaged. Don’t dismiss this feeling! Act on it! But learn from MY mistakes in this area. Don’t do what I did.
Right from the start here I want to make this perfectly clear: Pull your kid out! Don’t waste time communicating with her while she’s away in residential treatment and you get a bad feeling! Go-Get-Her! Cancel the insurance, stop paying, go in HARD and extract her! That weird feeling you had circulate through you was caused by something you sensed. You sensed signs that she’s being indoctrinated into a cult. Your senses are most likely right, so act. Worry about her continued treatment later. There are wonderful options for counseling and therapy at intensive outpatient facilities near your home. Be prepared for resistance on her part! If she’s been there a few weeks she’s learned how to look, appear, and behave severely mentally ill. Evil “therapists” and other clients who are more indoctrinated into the residential cult may have taught her about pulling her knees to her chest then rocking to and fro. Screaming while on the floor in a fetal position. Feigning vomiting at the mention or sight of you. Dispassionately disregard all these sick taught and learned tactics. Save her, get her out. Contact your insurance company hours before you pull up to get her. You’ll notice a position switch in the staff for sure! They’ll shield, protect, hide, and strongly advocate for her continuing treatment! UNTIL you inform all her “protectors” that you canceled her insurance two hours ago, and they won’t be getting that $1K per day moving forward. Once hearing that, her oh-so-benevolent “therapists” and administrators will be tossing her suitcases into your trunk for you! I tried for several days in 2011 to reach ANYONE at Castlewood. No luck whatsoever. I didn’t even know then if my kid was even still there! So I told some minimum-wage gatekeeper phone receptionist that I was canceling the insurance. In MINUTES Nancy Albus and Mark Schwartz were ringing MY phone. It’s all about the money my friends. It’s all about the money.
OK, so my goal in this little post has been achieved and it is simple. There is a very small real possibility that your kid is actually being helped somehow at Castlewood. I’ve had a few folks write me over the past eight years with “Castlewood Saved My Life” headers. I suppose it’s a statistical impossibility that Castlewood destroyed everyone who went there. So if your talking through whatever medium to your daughter and everything seems fine, great for you! But in talking to her if things don’t feel right, go all prehistoric on that place and extract her through any means required. DO NOT try to “combat” her indoctrination by flooding her with correspondence! You’ll loose that war. I sure did! So let me tell you MY mistake, so you can learn through my stupidity and save your family from Alsana/Castlewood.
I thought I was so smart! I wasn’t, I was an idiot. I started getting weird feelings when texting with and talking to my daughter. Keep in mind that eight years ago I was new to all this. Today I’m an authority on bad therapy and residential treatment cults like Castlewood. But then, I was just a loving parent who was worried about his daughter. She never wrote me a postal mail anything. So that was fine. But we did talk on the phone and text. It started to seem weird on the phone, when she would repeat some things I’d say really loudly. As if making a show for attention to other residents or employees. She’d over dramatize responses to me as if my asking how she was doing imposed on her. Most of what she loudly said seemed for the benefit of others, rather than being the way a daughter would talk to her father. All our verbal communication seemed to become a show or performance for other people. As if she was both trying to prove something and get lots of attention. She seemed to relish in this, while simultaneously pretending to be annoyed. It felt strange. That was one of those “Spidey Sense” moments I spoke of. I felt it, but I ignored it or rationalized it. She was a little 16 year old kid. I figured she liked the attention from her new friends there. She was the youngest girl at Castlewood. I figured she wanted to fit in. Even if it was weird. Later on she stopped calling and taking calls. But she’d still text. I thought that was weird. But again, I created excuses for it in my mind. Ignoring my gut once again. Then the texting got really strange. Other Missouri numbers would text me. All claiming to be my daughter and asking personal questions. Things like my social security number and Driver’s license number. Later, I realized these were from other clients and maybe even workers at Castlewood. Obviously, this was weird. Then, the now infamous texts to my step daughter occurred. Asking her very odd things that were laced with mental illness and cult-like feelings. Those texts are spoken of in several mainstream articles and publications now. They were also the last communications from my daughter.
So while now eight years later I stand on my soapbox and lecture you on extracting YOUR daughter from Alsana/Castlewood when things get weird, back THEN I did absolutely nothing! Learn from my screw-ups people! But WAIT! I get even STUPIDER!
After she texted my step-daughter those horrific ridiculous questions I pushed back a little. I was hurt and upset she’d indicate something so patently untrue about me to her step sister. I indicated I was considering removing her from Castlewood. She never contacted me again. That was April 14, 2011. Not pulling her out and cancelling her insurance right then was among the dumbest mistakes I’ve ever made. But remember, back then I thought I was SO smart! I started putting together a plan. Oh, and it was a doozy!
Yes, I considered just calling Aetna and cancelling the insurance. My daughter wasn’t talking to me anymore. Castlewood was where cults want to be, in complete control. But I loved my daughter and I liked her mom. I was scared both would hate me if I caused Castlewood to kick her out by cancelling her insurance. Remember I was new to all this sick evil cult therapy stuff back then. I just didn’t know anything yet. So I left her in there. I did a little research on cults. I learned some stuff about deprogramming cult victims. My plan was to immerse my daughter in reality. I was going to combat the sick evil practices at Castlewood by keeping it real via letters to my daughter.
So I wrote and wrote. I’d send her letters of support. I’d write about things we did together. I’d tell her about my daily doings. I’d send these letters through postal mail and I’d scan them and email them to her. Simply sending her an endless stream of love and support. While this was stupid, I was getting a little smarter. To be sure I remained grounded myself, I bounced these letters off a wonderful therapist I knew locally, and my attorneys before sending them onto my daughter. I valued their judgement and guidance. They helped me tremendously. At the time they too felt writing her was a good idea. But we were all wrong.
These past eight years advocating for victims of Schwartz and Castlewood I’ve learned that Castlewood would intercept communications with clients. They’d convince these young women to share personal letters with therapists and read them aloud while sitting on pillows in a circle with other clients. Together those already fully indoctrinated into the Castlewood cult and their “therapists” would dissect letters received from family. Desperately and feverishly looking for proof of abuse! Twisting and manipulating the true intended meaning of wholesome loving wonderful letters into awful terrible things. If Sally’s Dad wrote about the time he took her to visit a lighthouse, the group sitting on pillows would ask Sally how it felt to be raped and beaten by her father at the lighthouse. Just picture a room full of malnourished young women struggling with mental illness, their frail skinny bodies jacked up on psychotropic drugs, sitting in a circle of pillows in a group moderated by an evil cult therapist sharing letters from their family. All of them trying to find horrors contained in these loving letters. Each of them in a Castlewood orchestrated contest, trying to best each other’s horrific stories of abuse. If a young woman is unwilling to morph a loving letter from her Dad into despicable acts of incest she’s shamed and ignored by the group. Told she’s in denial, and that she doesn’t want to get better. Girls who turn loving innocent letters into horrible tales of torture, pain, incest, and rape are rewarded with love and crying group hugs. God the evil sickness of Alsana/Castlewood is beyond measure.
Then outside the “pillow circle therapy” (oh God!) loving innocent letters from family are combed over in private one-on-one “therapy”. A Castlewood “therapist” and client sitting alone together. Going line-by-line through family letters. Searching and looking for the hidden proof of evil in what is simply a loving concerned letter from a Dad who is desperately worried for his daughter.
In my particular case, ultimately it was correspondence that aided me! Both mine AND my daughters! Once my insurance actually did run out, she returned from Castlewood to live with her mother. By now several investigations into all her Castlewood cooked-up false narratives of rape, torture, molestation, and abuse were in full swing. My once sweet kind innocent little kid was now some ill, angry woman convinced of an entire lifetime of horrors that never occurred. She’d strut into interviews with folders of my sweet letters, accompanied by her “artwork” from “therapy” at Castlewood. Sick demented portraits of heinous terrible acts she supposedly “disclosed” while in “Art Therapy” (no, I’m not kidding) at Castlewood. If it wasn’t so hurtful and painful for me it would almost be funny. Especially getting the investigators personal takes on the packages she would slide across the interview table as “proof” she was telling the truth. The proverbial “eye-rolls” from these people seemed endless. I had already provided all these agencies with copies of anything I had sent up to her at Castlewood. But her submitting my loving letters and her “art” projects as proof of abuse sort of helped several of these little investigations close out. There simply was “nothing here” as one lead investigator told me.
There was one little glitch though. A very inexperienced and severely unintelligent Case Worker from some crappy little county office of Child Protective Services concluded that I should be listed as what is called “indicated” for abuse against my daughter. This county worker was overwhelmed and in WAY over her head. Here she had what was way back then a seemingly respectable facility in Missouri claiming they had unearthed this supposed lifetime of horrific abuse! When someone hears words like torture, rape, molestation, and Daddy in the same sentence it’s hard to think straight. The inertia created by those kind of words is very powerful. This case worker got overrun by it. So even though there was zero evidence and all the investigations had completely cleared me of any wrong doing, she checked off the “indicated” box. Just to be safe. That classification really means nothing. It’s legless and trivial. But I wasn’t having it!
I sued the county to overturn and expunge that ridiculous “finding” and handily won. Success in that hearing being partially credited to, yes, correspondence with my daughter at Castlewood! In one part of my hearing the Attorney representing this Case Worker and the County put one page of one of my letters in front of me while I was testifying. On this page he had highlighted half of one sentence which I had written. I don’t remember what it was. Because I didn’t care. Refusing to be tricked into his manipulative game and realizing he had just opened a huge door, I INSISTED that every single page of every correspondence I sent to me daughter be entered into the record. My attorney slid the file over to the Magistrate. The County Attorney vehemently objected! But, the Judge agreed that he would consider EVERY word in EVERY letter I sent my daughter. I had nothing to hide. Get it all on the table! Well he did read everything. As did a panel of Judges that decided the case. It was determined that the letters I had written my daughter were just the harmless words of a loving parent who was terrified for his child. So this not only put my letters to rest, it resulted in them helping my position. Both by their actual content, and by how odd it was that people who drank the Castlewood Koolaid thought they were somehow bad.
In another ironic twist related to correspondence while at Castlewood there were my daughters email letters to her various therapists. Long rambling letters depicting even more impossible, ridiculous, preposterous, unsubstantiated claims of abuse spanning about fourteen years of her then sixteen years of life. Claims against me of course, and against dozens of other innocent or completely nonexistent people. Simply insane ridiculousness. She was young and didn’t realize her email account was actually part of MY master AOL account. So I printed all these horrors out, and submitted them to all concerned as well. Most of the nonsensical blathering in these emails either completely contradicted other false claims she had made, or simply piled on more impossible scenarios. Resulting in an even greater reduction in overall credibility.
So that’s a little personal insight into what it’s like to, and what results from corresponding with your daughter while she’s at Alsana/Castlewood. Think it’s worth it? Think you can keep her on track with your cute little letters while she’s there being indoctrinated into their therapy cult? Good luck with that! Trying it sure kicked my ass! For those who’ve been asking about this over the years, and to that most recent person I say simply this: If you feel you have to ask about corresponding with a loved one in residential treatment, it’s time to extract and deprogram them. There’s your answer. Take it or leave it.